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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

30 March 2009

30/03/2009 - BJJ (Beginner)

Class #213

Roger Gracie Academy Kilburn (BJJ), Jude Samuel, London, UK - 30/03/2009 - Beginner

I had an interesting chat with Bryan Hogeveen this weekend, a name Fightworks Podcast listeners might recognise from his interview a while back. If you missed that episode, Bryan is an academic currently conducting a BJJ study, for which he's asking people to fill in a survey (one for women and one for men).

Bryan is also looking to interview those who are willing to give a bit more time. I love talking about BJJ, so I was happy to get the chance to babble at length (like I mentioned during the conversation, this is ideal for bloggers, who are always looking to share their thoughts about BJJ anyway). It doesn't matter if you're nowhere near Canada, where Bryan is based, as he'll phone you from his university. It sounds like a great project, so definitely deserving of your support: for further details, check out Bryan's blog.

On a different topic, it looks as if Eddie Bravo is gearing up to follow in the Gracie Academy's footsteps, with his own version of online training, complete with the ability to gain rank through video. It should make for a revealing comparison with the Gracie University: I'm particularly intrigued as to whether or not Bravo manages to avoid the criticism Gracie University has received (which I listed back here). I've long thought that the Gracie Academy and Bravo have a lot in common, given that they both rely on sometimes controversial marketing to maintain their reputation, rather than major current competitive success (as opposed to, say, Gracie Barra with Roger Gracie, Alliance with Cobrinha or Gracie Humaitá with Xande Ribeiro, to cite just a few examples from those powerhouse teams).

Also, just noticed as I was writing this that Oli G, the undisputed king of competing at every competition ever, has set up a swish looking new site to showcase his competition videos. Check it out here.

Jude focused on chokes for tonight's session. First the basic rear naked choke. Put your arm around their neck, pressing the bony part of your forearm into their throat. Grab the bicep of your other arm, making sure not to bring the bicep arm out straight (otherwise they could potentially grip your wrist and submit you, using their shoulder to bend your arm the wrong way). Finally, the hand of the bicep arm goes to the back of their head, then you squeeze their neck between your two arms.

The RNC was followed by a lapel choke. From rear mount, reach over their shoulder and grab deep in their collar. Your other hand comes under their armpit and grabs the other collar. To finish, straighten out your arms, pushing forward and thereby squeezing your partner's neck between their lapels.

Finally, Jude went through the clock choke. This is similar to the lapel choke, except that it is applied when your partner is turtled up, and the execution is with your bodyweight rather than pulling on the collars. Once you have the grip on their lapels, drop your weight onto their neck, staying tight. In order to secure your base, put your forehead to the floor on the other side, then slowly walk round, one leg at a time, starting with the bottom leg. Your legs are acting as the hands of a clock, hence the name.

In guard passage, I kept trying the Saulo guard break without much success: still not controlling the hips well enough, which I think continues to be my main problem in somebody else's guard. I also tried standing guard breaks, getting to my feet while holding their sleeve, but need more work on establishing base and being careful with my legs, avoiding sweeps.

Underneath, I again attempted the combination of handstand sweep with star sweep. Swinging both legs to the same side works ok, but I'm not staying close enough to the leg. I need to knock them off balance by getting in tight to their thigh. At the moment, I'm leaving too much space, which is why last week I basically ended up under side control, while this week Rich caught me in a randomly positioned armbar.

Another thing I wanted to work today was replacing full guard from half guard. My aim was to grab their shoulder and leg, then get my same side leg under their knee, while the other foot trapped their calf. I'd then lift them up and drop them back into full guard. However, the problem was firstly getting that foot under their knee: can be awkward depending on how I've locked the half-guard. I'm also not getting a good grip on the arm, and when trying to grab onto the knee, my arm is too loose.

When sparring with one of the white belts, that meant I was sitting there working my way of an Americana from much of the spar. Fortunately for me, they didn't know how to finish it, but that's the only thing that meant I was able to avoid the submission. So much like last lesson, I was underneath a white belt in half-guard, though at least this time, I was working towards something specific.

It was good to see John there, who is a purple belt that weighs the same as me. I've sparred with him once before, back at RGA HQ: hopefully he'll be at Jude's regularly. He had lots of advice, such as trying Saulo's running escape under side control. I had thought that was only useful for when they had both arms on the near side of your body, but John mentioned that you could often direct their arm to where you wanted. Gave it a try in sparring and it worked ok, though obviously John was letting me have it (he took on an instructor role for everyone he sparred with: IIRC, though he's still a purple, he's been training for a looooong time).

Finished off class by buying myself one of the snazzy new RGA branded t-shirts. I've generally avoided buying stuff, given continuing lack of job, but as its almost my birthday, I thought I'd treat myself. :)

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